So I have been at my current job for just over three months now and am loving where I work. Just recently I have had to start taking the bus in to the office both in the morning and at night. This bus ride is about an hour each way.

When I take the bus in the morning, the one that will get me to the office on time gets me there at 8:00am. The normal start time for the company is 8:30am. I begin work right once I get in the office.

At night the buses that I must take work on a tightly wound schedule to each other. One comes at 5:02pm and would make sure I catch the 5:40 bus at home and I will be home by 6. Now if I miss that one I won't get one the first bus until 5:20 causing me to get to the other stop at 6 and the transfer bus doesn't come back until 6:30 and I am not home until almost 7.

My company gets off work at 5pm so the hours are 8:30 - 5. Is it ethical for me to start packing my stuff up at 4:55 to ensure I can leave right at 5 and catch the bus home? Is there a better way I could handle this? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • 2
    Whether you need to work down to the minute would depend on your company culture. Have you asked your manager?
    – MackM
    Sep 3, 2015 at 20:52
  • 54
    Ethics has nothing to do with this. Just explain this to your manager, and get approval. It sounds like you're in early, anyway. I wouldn't have any problem with this, were I your manager. Sep 3, 2015 at 20:59
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    Does anyone else start or leave early? That should be at least a guide to your chances of getting approval to do so.
    – Jane S
    Sep 3, 2015 at 21:36
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    You work as a software developer (I gather, from a previous question) for a company where people get nasty emails for leaving at 4:58 instead of 5:00. I'd be more concerned with leaving for a better employer than leaving in time for my bus. Sep 3, 2015 at 23:44
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    How is this even a question? You leave when work finishes, else it wouldn't be on your contract. If that's 5pm, you are allowed to be out the door by 5pm. If your boss has issues with this, find a new one.
    – insidesin
    Sep 4, 2015 at 11:15

5 Answers 5


The only thing to do if you want to vary from regular working hours is talk with your manager. They are going to be the only one who will be able to say if logic trumps regulations.


It really depends on company culture. Some companies are pretty lax about the hours you work as long as everybody is happy with your performance while others are strict about you arriving or leaving at a certain time. Assuming you're performing at a level that everybody is happy with and there's no official (or unofficial) company policy preventing your from leaving right on time or even a little bit early to catch the bus you should be okay. If in doubt ask your manager.

  • 2
    The thing I'd note here is that it's not just lax about being lax with hours, it's also about the culture of "Do you leave at 5, or start packing up at 5?" - at my last company it was very much expected that you would be sat at your desk ready to begin work at 9 (typically meaning you must be on site no later than 8:50) and that you would start packing up no earlier than 5:30 (meaning leaving the site no earlier than 5:35). My current company allows me to walk through the door at 8:59 and has no problem with packing up at 4:55 to leave at 5:00 (although in practice I rarely actually do either)
    – Jon Story
    Oct 14, 2015 at 11:16

I have had this problem myself - the bus routes to and from work that come to our building come at an inconvenient time, making a 9-to-5 shift unreasonable.

The solution was simple - ask to shift my hours slightly, so that I still cover the same length of time in a day, but can catch a bus that gets me to work on-time, and another that gets me home at a reasonable hour - this sounds like what you want.

Now, this is up to your manager - whether or not this shift in work hours is acceptable - but if it's a relatively small shift, and a shift made entirely to get you to work on time, it's unlikely they'll have a serious problem with it.

Regardless of that though, get permission. Don't be afraid to ask them, and ask them as soon as possible to make it clear that you need this change.


Does everyone pile for the door at 5pm? Do people stay until 5:02pm sometimes and so work two extra minutes unpaid?

If you have a physical (or digital - as it might be) clocking in system where you are paid for the hours you log then maybe I would be concerned. If your colleague received an email questioning their two minutes of missed work then - besides perhaps realigning your view of the company as a whole - contact your manager and state that you arrive early anyway.

The problem in my mind would be whether such a trivial request (Hi can I pack up at 4:58pm) would be at best a slight amusement to my immediate superior. It depends on your company atmosphere.


If the working time at your office is 8:30am to 5:00pm, then it is perfectly fine, ethical and everything to leave exactly at 5:00pm. If you need to clean up things before leaving, then there is no reason to start doing that at 5:00pm. The cleaning up is work. Work ends at 5:00pm. If cleaning up takes five minutes, it's perfectly fine to start at 4:55pm.

Obviously a good idea to talk to your manager. Any decent manager will be happy that you leave at 5:00pm to avoid wasting an hour until you are home, especially since you are actually starting work half an hour early. If they insist that you can't leave work at 5:00pm, then you advice them that from tomorrow your working time will start at 8:30am.

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